Megan Hallowes

Jun 272016
Davidsonia pruriens

Davidsonia pruriens

Australia is blessed with thousands of native edible plants, yet not many people know this.

When asked to name any bush foods, most Australians will answer “kangaroo and the witchetty grub”. Yet plants made up the bulk of the traditional Aboriginal diet. Their plant knowledge was extensive and included the whereabouts, relative tastiness, time of harvest of crops of yams, edible roots and flowers, berries, fruits and nuts. They also used the small seeds of native grasses to grind and make into bread.

One fruit, native to the rainforests of Queensland and NSW, is the Davidson’s plum. It was enjoyed by Aboriginal people and is now popular with chefs around the country – particularly for jams, sauces, chutneys and even wine. Continue reading »

Jan 302016

F1ORzY1453095468Indigenous Australians enjoyed a diverse supply of interesting edible plants in the millennia before white settlement. Some, like macadamias, have been cultivated widely around the world for many years, but in the last few decades other lesser known “bush tucker” plants have been discovered by modern Australian chefs and gardeners. One of the estimated 5,000 edible plant species across Australia is Capparis mitchellii, commonly known as Wild Orange, Native Pomegranate or Mitchell’s Bumble Tree. The attraction of growing and eating these plants is not only their high nutritional value and unique flavours, but that they also provide habitat for native birds and insects and, therefore, a way of maintaining biodiversity. Continue reading »

Nov 242015

pigfacename1If you’ve walked over a sand dune on the way for a swim on a summer’s day in Eastern Australia you may have noticed a succulent plant with a spectacular bright pink flower growing beside the path.

Chances are it was Carpobrotus glaucescens (also known as pigface, ice plant or angular sea fig). And you might be surprised to learn that not only is it native to Australia but it is also edible. The red-purple fruit has a flavour described by some as like salty strawberry or kiwi fruit and by others as like salty apples1. Its thick, fleshy leaves can also be eaten – raw or cooked (the roasted leaves may be used as a salt substitute) and the juice from the leaves can be used to soothe stings or burnt skin2. The juice from the leaves can be mixed with water and used as a gargle for sore throats and mild bacterial infections of the mouth. The fruit has also been used as a laxative3.

Continue reading »

Oct 282015

RosellanamedThe beauty of Hibiscus heterophyllus is that it not only produces many lovely flowers over an extended period, it also has edible parts and useful fibres. And, it attracts native birds and a variety of insects so is a useful addition to gardens where natural, rather than chemical, pest control is preferred.

Indigenous to eastern parts of New South Wales and Queensland (right up to the Lockhart River on the very tip), the Native Rosella is one of 35 species of Hibiscus native to Australia. There are 250 species worldwide. While preferring warm, moist environments, the tall, fast-growing shrub has been successfully cultivated in Canberra and Melbourne. This plant should not be confused with the annual Hibiscus sabdariffa which is indigenous to West Africa but is naturalised in Australia.  It has  a number of similar uses and is also grown in Australia. Continue reading »

Oct 032015

midyimphotogThe midyim berry Austromyrtus dulcis (also known as midgen berry or sand berry) is an easy to grow bushfood which occurs naturally in coastal areas ranging from northern NSW to Fraser Island in Queensland. A favourite with Aboriginal people it has a sweet, but tangy flavour which means it is nice to eat fresh, but also great in pies and preserves. It is a close relative of the Lilly Pilly. Because it hardly suffers from pests and disease, it is a useful plant for gardeners who want to minimise their environmental impacts by avoiding chemicals sprays and fertilisers. Continue reading »

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